On the Streets: Legal Support for Pedestrians Hit by Drunk Drivers

Charlotte Miller

Updated on:


The effects of pedestrian accidents caused by drunk drivers can be absolutely devastating both physically and emotionally. Sadly, these completely preventable tragedies occur far too often on our roads. In 2021 alone, a staggering 8,984 pedestrians lost their lives while trying to walk from one place to another. Just think about that number for a moment nearly 9,000 individuals had their lives senselessly cut short because of drunk drivers.

But even for those who survive these horrific collisions, the impacts can be life-altering. Serious injuries, extensive medical expenses, lost wages, PTSD, and ongoing trauma affect both survivors and their loved ones. The financial toll combines with the psychological and emotional burdens, intensifying the hardships and suffering endured.

Accessing the right information empowers you, ensuring proper advocacy and guarding against exploitation in this challenging situation. Let this guide serve as a resource to also secure the justice and financial compensation you deserve to begin piecing your life back together. Stay strong, stay informed, and remember, you have a voice and a legal path forward after such a devastating experience. We’re here to navigate it.

The Aftermath of a Collision

When struck by a drunk driver, time is of the essence. According to pedestrian safety statistics, a pedestrian is killed every 71 minutes in traffic crashes. Taking the following immediate steps is crucial:

  1. Seek medical Attention: Prioritize your health and well-being. Call for emergency medical assistance, even if your injuries seem minor. Prompt treatment can prevent further complications and serve as documentation for future legal proceedings.
  1. Contact Law Enforcement: Report the incident to the police immediately. Their investigation and documentation will be crucial for any legal actions you decide to pursue.
  1. Document the Scene: If possible, capture photographs of the scene, including the vehicle, its position, and any visible damage. Collect the names and contact information of potential witnesses, as their testimonies can prove invaluable.

Legal Rights and Options

Understanding the legal framework surrounding drunk driving is essential, including in which situations a driver is considered to be under the influence. After ensuring your immediate safety, it’s essential to understand your legal rights and options. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to:

  • Pursue an Insurance Claim: File a claim against the drunk driver’s car insurance policy. This can help cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
  • Initiate Civil Lawsuits: Explore legal action against the drunk driver crash for negligence. A successful civil lawsuit can provide compensation for your injuries, pain, and suffering.
  • Hold Government Entities Accountable: If poor road design or maintenance contributed to the accident, you may be able to hold relevant government agencies responsible.

An experienced hit by drunk driver lawyer can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal procedures, and fight for the compensation you deserve. They can also handle the complexities of the case, allowing you to focus on your recovery.

Common Causes and Risk Factors

Various factors can contribute to pedestrian accidents involving drunk drivers, such as:

  • Failure to Yield: Both drivers and pedestrians must exercise caution and follow traffic laws, such as yielding the right of way.
  • Speeding: Reckless driving and excessive speed increase the risk of accidents and the severity of injuries.
  • Intoxication: Drunk drivers pose a significant threat due to impaired judgment, delayed reaction times, and reduced coordination.
  • Distracted Behavior: Activities like using phones, adjusting music, or engaging in other distractions can divert attention from the road.
  • Jaywalking: Crossing streets without proper precautions, such as using designated crosswalks, can increase the risk of accidents.
  • Visibility Issues: Poor lighting, inclement weather, or dark clothing can make pedestrians less visible to drivers.
  • Poor Road Design: Inadequate infrastructure, such as lack of crosswalks or proper lighting, can contribute to accidents.

High-Risk Groups

Although pedestrian accidents can occur to anyone, specific demographics face higher risks:

  • Elderly Adults: According to statistics, 20% of pedestrian fatalities occur in the elderly age group.
  • Young Children: Tragically, 20.4% of pedestrian deaths involve children under five years old.

Common Pedestrian Injuries

Pedestrians are highly vulnerable in collisions with vehicles, and the resulting injuries can range from minor to life-threatening or fatal. Some common injuries include:

  • Cuts, Bruises, and Scrapes
  • Internal Organ Damage
  • Bone Fractures
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Amputation or Limb Loss
  • Dental and Eye Injuries
  • Fatalities

Determining Fault

Assigning fault in pedestrian accidents involving drunk drivers is a complex process that considers various factors:

  • Driver Responsibility: Drivers are legally obligated to exercise reasonable care and follow traffic laws. Failure to do so, especially while under the influence, can establish negligence.
  • Vehicle Defects: In some cases, vehicle manufacturers may share responsibility if defective parts or systems contributed to the accident.
  • Road Design and Maintenance: Government agencies responsible for road design, construction, and maintenance can be held liable if their negligence played a role in the incident.

Legal Procedures and Timelines

Filing a Police Report

Promptly reporting the incident to law enforcement is crucial for initiating legal proceedings. Each state has specific time limits, known as statutes of limitations, for filing a police report or initiating legal action. It’s essential to act quickly to preserve your rights.

Gathering Evidence

Constructing a robust case necessitates gathering substantial evidence, such as:

  • Witness Statements: Collect contact information and statements from anyone who is a victim of a drunk driving accident.
  • Medical Records: Document all injuries, treatments, and associated costs through detailed medical records.
  • Surveillance Footage: Identify and obtain any relevant surveillance footage from nearby businesses or traffic cameras.

Legal Representation

Navigating the legal system can be complex, especially when dealing with pedestrian accidents involving drunk drivers. Consulting with an experienced attorney is highly recommended:

  • Contingency Fees: Many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you receive compensation.
  • Guidance: Attorneys can provide valuable guidance throughout the legal process, from filing claims to negotiating drunk driving lawsuit settlements or representing you in court.

Compensation and Damages

If you prevail in your legal case, you may be entitled to various forms of compensation for the damages suffered:

Medical Expenses

  • Immediate Costs: Emergency room bills, surgeries, medications, and other initial medical expenses.
  • Long-Term Care: Compensation for ongoing rehabilitation, physical therapy, and future medical needs related to the injuries.

Lost Wages and Income

  • Calculating Lost Earnings: You may be able to recover lost wages for the time missed from work due to your injuries.
  • Future Earning Capacity: If your injuries impair your ability to work or advance in your career, you may receive compensation for the potential loss of future earnings.

Pain and Suffering

  • Quantifying Emotional Distress: In addition to physical injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for the emotional trauma, mental anguish, and decreased quality of life resulting from the accident.
  • Quality of Life Impact: Pedestrian accidents can have long-lasting effects on a person’s ability to enjoy life and participate in activities. These impacts may be factored into the compensation.

Legal Precedents and Case Studies

Studying successful pedestrian claims and local legal outcomes can provide valuable insights and guidance for those seeking justice. Consider the following:

  • Landmark Cases: Explore legal victories for pedestrians in high-profile cases, as these can set important precedents.
  • Precedents in Your State: Understand how courts in your state have ruled on similar cases, as these decisions can influence the outcome of your case.

Advocacy and Awareness

While seeking legal recourse is essential, broader efforts are necessary to raise awareness and prevent future pedestrian accidents involving drunk drivers:

Community Initiatives

  • Pedestrian Safety Campaigns: Participate in local campaigns that promote pedestrian safety, raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving, and advocate for stronger laws and enforcement.
  • Support groups: Connect with others who have experienced similar situations. Support groups can provide emotional support, share resources, and amplify advocacy efforts.

Always try to remember, that knowledge is your shield in the aftermath of an accident. Stay informed, assert your rights, and seek justice. Together, we can create safer streets for everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you hit a pedestrian by accident?

If you accidentally hit a pedestrian, the first steps are to stop immediately, render aid if possible, and report the incident to the authorities. Even if the accident seems minor, it’s essential to follow proper procedures and cooperate with any investigations.

Who is at fault in a pedestrian accident?

Determining fault in a pedestrian accident can be complex. Either the pedestrian, the driver, or both parties may be found partially or fully at fault. This determination is based on factors such as contributory or comparative negligence, traffic laws, and the specific circumstances of the incident.

What compensation is available after a pedestrian accident?

Available compensation after a pedestrian accident can vary based on the severity of injuries, the extent of damages, and the specific legal actions pursued. Common forms of compensation include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and potential punitive damages in cases of egregious negligence.


Pedestrian accidents involving drunk drivers can have devastating consequences, but victims are not powerless. By understanding the legal procedures, gathering evidence, and seeking appropriate representation, you can increase your chances of obtaining the justice and compensation you deserve. Remember, knowledge empowers, and staying informed about your rights and options is the initial step toward reclaiming your life. Stay vigilant, stay safe, and don’t hesitate to speak up for pedestrian safety.